“I am sorry you went away. I wish you were back.” ~ George Washington to Alexander Hamilton, after Hamilton left the Constitutional Convention for a break, 1787.
Early June, 1787
“I suspect Mr. Madison has never visited the forest of Venus before.”
George slammed down his pewter mug of whiskey and nearly spit out the bit that was in his mouth. He emitted one, loud laugh, the one he masterfully suppressed in public and reserved only for the jokes of those he trusted.
“You read my thoughts,” he said after he calmed himself. “I always supposed the same.”
Alex cupped his protruding chin in his left hand, which he had rested upon the wooden tavern table. The orange flame of the table’s candlestick reflected in his drunk, dreamy eyes. Somewhere in the tavern a clock chimed 2:30 AM, and a few men in another room laughed obnoxiously as they clinked their pewter mugs together in a toast.
“It is quite obvious, when one observes him long enough.” A wry smile crossed Alex’s full lips before he added: “I should not say such things about him. He is a brilliant and amiable man.”
“Just an innocent one. A very, very innocent one.”
Alex chuckled as he grabbed his glass of scotch. George relished the sound as if it was a piece of rare, sweet music.
The Indian Queen Tavern had become one of their favorite places to meet after the daily convention meetings. They remained there later and later every night, talking for longer and on much more personal terms than they ever had in the army.
Both men knew George allowed his public veneer to fade more easily once he had a few drinks, and although George understood the danger of this all too well, the positive way in which he and Alex interacted lately convinced him to relent. Although they still addressed each other in a formal manner, a closeness existed between them in conversation that George never previously felt. Perhaps the changing political atmosphere called for an alteration of attitudes, or perhaps Alex’s decrease in haughtiness towards George was the result of maturity.
Whatever the reason, George could not deny he enjoyed it greatly. He knew he should stay away from Alex as much as possible, lest something happen he did not wish to occur. Yet as always, whenever Alex requested something—including his former general’s company at the tavern or dinner table—George could never deny his wishes.
He reminded himself of this as he smoothly licked the remnants of whiskey from his thin lips. Alex tapped the fingers of his right hand gently on the table, producing a faint drumming noise as he did so.
“Then again,” George continued, the alcohol stirring his blood and spurring him to speak more, “the forest of Venus is not for the timid to approach.”
“Of course not.”
Alex leisurely lifted his scotch glass and, looking up at George, paused. Slowly he leaned in closer and his voice dropped to a whisper. George noticed a sinful flicker in the violet eyes as their owner murmured:
“And from what I have heard, the timid should certainly never attempt to handle the spear of Mars, either.”
Had anyone else said this to him, George would have stiffened in his seat and disapproved of the statement. Yet all he could do now was stare at his former aide-de-camp and feel his own face turn as red as a blooming Queen Anne rose in spring.
A moment of silence passed between them, and intensity emanated from Alex’s eyes as he leered at George unblinkingly. George’s heart skipped a beat as he questioned whether or not Alex expected a response.
He felt relieved when the tavern wench came by to refill his mug and broke the tension. After she left, Alex leaned back in his seat and assumed his typical self-assurance. He casually swirled the remaining brown liquid in his glass.
“We must remain on good terms with Mr. Madison,” Alex said, referring to politics once again. “We need visionaries like him on our side.”
Stunned—and his excitement beyond provoked—George continued to stare at him.
“Should we propose a form of good government and encounter resistance, I would like to have his notes as well. He is not one for rhetoric, but his writings on our opponents will prove beneficial once we need to defend our position.”
Alex continued to speak—as always, planning two steps ahead—but George was no longer listening. Although he could repress the notion that Alex had implied something with his earlier statement, George could not deny how greatly it had stimulated his imagination.